COAL: 1965 Ford Thunderbird — My First Classic!

This was my first classic car. And it spawned a lifetime of my love for classic cars.

I had made friends with a girl who went to my school; Kim who was a fun-loving, and sweet girl and we enjoyed each other’s company. On her driveway sat a Rangoon red 1965 Thunderbird. The car had a white vinyl top and a red leather interior.

My interest was piqued and I asked her dad about the car and if it was for sale. It was a sad story; his brother had bought the car brand new. He then went to Vietnam, and never returned home.

He went on to explain that the car, while loaded for the day, did not have air conditioning. We were living in Fort Myers Florida and he said no one liked driving it!

He finally agreed to sell it to my dad and I after my dad came over to see the car. For $500, we now owned a father and son project.

While I wanted to do things correctly, my father chose to go cheap! A fact I would soon find out.

Dad had a job opportunity on the East Coast of Florida and asked me to drive my mom over. The car seemed to wander all over the road and I thought for sure something was loose up front.

No, it seemed my dad felt the steel belted radial tires were too nice and put bias ply tires on it!

When Dad accepted the new position, I chose to stay in Fort Myers. I worked for a painter and as a sort of sign on bonus, he agreed to paint the car. He spent a day filling in the weather check marks in the vinyl with Marine 5200 caulk and brushing out white Imron! Then he resprayed the car in the original color and it was very sharp.

When I bought the car, it had 78000 miles. And living across the state from my parents, the miles added up quickly. But I was starting to become tired of the no air conditioning.

Image from the web.


My wife, Cindy, and I met at a shopping center. I was in charge of the maintenance, and she worked as both an eye doctor and at Publix. I noticed her walking around at lunchtime, and admiring me?

No, my car as I would find out later!

Anyway, I thought she was beautiful and I asked her out. She accepted, and then almost backed out….

I had sold the Thunderbird while I was in Fort Myers and thumbed a ride home to my parents. It’s at this point my dad and I bought my precious COAL, my Caprice! The day before our date, I pulled up to see her leaving Publix. I asked her what time, etc.

She looked at my Caprice and said, “Oh my! You have two cars! How cool!”

I explained that, no, I wasn’t cool and I owned just the Caprice.

She then said,  “You traded that red car on THIS?!”

Having felt punched in the gut, I quietly asked her if we still had a date! We did and you all know the rest of the story.

Whatever happened to my 65 Bird? Well, Cindy and I were visiting Fort Myers one weekend and found it on a lot. She wanted to buy it! She called her dad, who said he’d loan us the money! But, as we know, you can’t always go back. The car was in a sad shape. The leather seats were torn, and the carpet had succumbed to the hot weather. We walked away and I promised to buy her a Thunderbird someday. But that’s another COAL!

Since my last COAL shows a much younger Chip and Cindy, I’ll tag a today picture. In December, we will celebrate 40 years of marriage.